Brands and companies with strong identities are easy targets in pop culture. Saturday Night Live has been known to parody commercials like Boniva. Luxury brands are consistently referenced in Top 40 songs. The entire series of Mad Men has been filled with product, company and agency mentions – after all, it is a show about advertising – but some of these brands have not been portrayed in the best light, including agency giant McCann. On the show, the agency is the proverbial Goliath to SC&P’s David, and its employees are depicted as sexist and evil; perceptions that the McCann of today is eager to squash. But how?

In today’s mobile and information-at-your-fingertips environment, the best way to do this is through social media, and that’s exactly what McCann did. Thanks to a savvy company social media team, the agency Twitter handle made Sunday nights from 10 pm – 11 pm their platform to talk about the company, its history, and poke a little fun at their connection to the show.

While the Mad Men tenure is over, we’ve learned a few things along the way that can help companies leverage these unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome, mentions:

  1. Establish a social media identity. What worked so well for McCann is that the tone of their tweets is no different when Mad Men is on air than it is when they are sharing content unrelated to the show.
  2. Strike while the iron is hot. Social media is an instant gratification tool, and acting quickly is imperative. While this is not always the easiest when it comes to healthcare brands, finding the mention and reacting while it’s still relevant can help bolster engagement and message uptake.
  3. Join the conversation. Engage with your audience by using relevant hashtags and making 40-year-old references relevant to your current audience.
  4. Use it as an educational opportunity. Did the mention get something wrong, or was information missing? Correct it. This is the perfect chance for audiences to receive brand messages directly from the source – because they are already paying attention.

Has all of this worked for McCann? Presumably, yes. Web mentions of the agency are up 46% since Mad Men returned this past April, largely in part to their significant social presence during each episode. While the magnitude of this kind of exposure is hard to come by and may not be seen again for a while, the power of social media has provided a great platform for companies to take advantage of these organic mentions.

By Alison Frenz, Team Lead at Biosector 2